Getting Creative with Writing Part 5: The APPrentice

One of the four capacities in Curriculum for Excellence is Effective Contributor and, after all, they say teamwork makes the dream work. With this in mind, I began a creative entrepreneurial project three years ago based on the television programme, The Apprentice with the slightly skewed title of The APPrentice.

For this project, third level pupils work together to conceive of an educational app in some way linked with either Literacy, Numeracy or Health and Wellbeing (or a combination of these).

Groups brainstorm creative ideas for smartphone/tablet products to develop academic skills such as numeracy in money management, social networks to enhance literacy and fun fitness apps to better health and wellbeing.

A great highlight for me in 2014 was reading a boy’s end-of-year evaluation in which he said the APPrentice experience had made him think twice about his future career.

Once they have settled on their idea, they write an App Store description designing catchy phrases to best sell their product to potential customers. This encourages pupils to consider the language of advertising, particularly how a ‘blurb’ informs a customer of a product’s purpose and how to sell the USP or unique selling point of the product. Through acknowledging the importance of grabbing the attention of the fleeting customer, this activity capitalises on the skimming and scanning skills taught in Reciprocal Reading – in effect, turning these receptive strategies on their heads and making them productive.

Each group presents their app to expert judges from relevant departments in the school – Computing, Art and Business Education – who put the pupils through their paces, asking challenging questions to test the robustness of their ideas. This is a natural interdisciplinary context through which links can be made with the literacy elements of non-English subjects. Better yet, the project’s partners Screenmedia – an award-winning digital communications agency based in Glasgow – then receive presentations from the two best groups in their boardroom. As well as deciding an overall winner, they share the process of taking an app idea from conception to completion bringing a real-world dimension to the project.

A great highlight for me in 2014 was reading a boy’s end-of-year evaluation in which he said the APPrentice experience had made him think twice about his future career as he had become so interested in technological innovation. Whether this activity leads young people to jobs or awakens the future Steve Jobs, it is a great way to pull pupils together in a collective creative effort. 

Check out the other inspirational blogs in Peter's Getting Creative with Writing series. We also have lots of other great blogs on  creative writing to inspire you!

Peter Kelly

Peter Kelly is a secondary English teacher at Holy Cross High School in Hamilton. At the time of writing he is working on secondment as a Development Officer for South Lanarkshire Council.